Google Web Spam Report
Google released its 2017 webspam report this morning. The metrics show improvements from last year’s report in several areas. For example, Google said that less than 1 percent of searchers ended up visiting a spammy website from the Google search results. And it reduced that figure by half in just a couple of years. Google doubled down on removing unnatural links, reduced link spam by almost half.
Google cut the number of hacked websites from showing in the search results by 80 percent, and cut link spam in search by almost half. As we covered recently, the number of Search Console notifications dropped to 6 million from 9 million the year before.
Google says its spam teams “doubled down” on removing unnatural links using algorithms and “scalable” manual actions.
Here are some of the highlights from the Google Web Spam Report:
• Less than 1 percent of sites visited from search results are spammy — and that’s been the case “for many years”.
• There was an 80 percent reduction of hacked sites in search results.
• Google doubled down on removing unnatural links via algorithms and manual actions.
• Link spam reduction year over year dropped by almost half.
• 90,000 user reports of search spam were acted on.
• 45 million messages were sent to registered website owners via Search Console.
• Six million of these messages are related to manual actions.
For more details on the Google Web Spam Report, check out the Google blog post.
Police Warn of ‘Ransom’ Spam Targeting UK Users
Tens of millions of UK internet users could be at risk from “ransom” email spam seemingly sent from financial institutions. The email has an attachment that looks legitimate but is malware that encrypts computer files. If the attachment is opened, a displayed countdown timer demands a ransom to decrypt the files.
Small to medium businesses seem to be the target and the National Crime Agency says there is significant risk.
Lee Miles, deputy head of the National Cyber Crime Unit, says: “The NCA are actively pursuing organised crime groups committing this type of crime. We are working in co-operation with industry and international partners to identify and bring to justice those responsible and reduce the risk to the public.”
The malware installs a piece of “ransomware” called Cryptolocker on computers running the Windows operating system. The ransom demands that the user pay two Bitcoins, a virtual currency, that would be worth £536 to release the decryption key.
Reports suggest that people who have paid the ransom have not had their files decrypted and it has been impossible to restore encrypted files. The NCA said it would never endorse the payment of a ransom to criminals and warns that there is no guarantee that the people behind the demand would honour the payments.
An NCCU investigation is seeking to identify the source of the email addresses used.
Computer users are being warned not to click on any suspicious attachments, to have updated antivirus software and to regularly back up files. If a computer is infected the advice is to disconnect it from the network and seek professional help to clean the device.
The NCA said that anyone infected with this malware should report it via actionfraud.police.uk.